3 Tools to Biohack Your Chronic Illness

Move over FitBit! There are many new applications for your electronic devices that help keep track of your symptoms, sleep, supplements, autonomic function, and more! Here are 3 of my favorites…

biohack CFS

Sleep Cycle (iOS and Android) $0.99

Sleep Cycle uses your devices’ accelerometer to detect movements during sleep. It also functions as an alarm clock that will gently wake you from sleep over a 30 minute window (this time can be adjusted). The alarm is based on the notion that you will feel more refreshed if woken up during a light sleep phase. Sleep Cycle uses a 30 minute alarm window that ends at your set alarm time and wakes you in your lightest sleep phase.

My favorite feature of this app is the built-in alarm clock sounds, which are far more pleasant and gentle than traditional alarms. There is also a built-in white noise sleep-aid with various background noises that lull you to sleep. The sounds turn off when it detects sleep has set in. I use the sizzling rain sound to drown out the noise of NYC and get to sleep sooner.

An added feature is note taking. You can select various metrics about your day to look for patterns that positively or negatively affect sleep. Examples of metrics are caffeine usage, stress levels, eating late, exercise, etc. Other metrics can be manually entered in a sleep journal.

sleep cycle for CFS

The app also collects heart rate data by using your device’s camera. Upon waking, your device will prompt you to place your finger over the camera sensor to measure a pulse. This may be of particular value for ME/CFS patients who suffer with POTS and other autonomic dysfunction.

Use for ME/CFS & Fibro Patients

  • Sleep Cycle detect steps taken throughout the day, so it may be helpful for those patients who rely on pacing.
  • Trying a new supplement or medication? Use Sleep Cycle to see how effective these interventions are on sleep quality.
  • Determine how various factors (stress, activity, foods, etc) throughout your day effect sleep pattern 

Inner Balance from HeartMath (iOS) &

EmWave2 from HeartMath (iOS) $129; $199

Heart Rate Variability is a measure of beat-to-beat changes in heart rate and rhythm. It serves as a method for estimating health and resiliency and is commonly used among athletes and meditators. Research studies using HRV measures demonstrate its accuracy as a marker of physiological resiliency and behavioral flexibility. It also may reflect your ability to adapt effectively to stress and environmental factors. Heart Rate Variability devices are considered as accurate as EKG and provide a window into the function of the autonomic nervous system.

heart math

The Inner Balance device plugs into your phone or tablet and a clip attaches to the earlobe with a sensor that measures pulse. The app takes you through guided breathing exercises with the help of a breathe pacer. The timing of the pacer can be adjusted depending on your breathing capacity. You can practice as long as you like and the data is collected for each session.

The EmWave 2 device is a similar gadget but instead offers a standalone option that detects thumb pulse via a handheld device.

Since using the Inner Balance device daily I have noticed improved sleep. This is a helpful tool for relaxation and meditation practice. Breathing exercises such as these have an added benefit of stress reduction and improving oxygenation to tissues.

More about the HeartMath Institute here.

Use for ME/CFS & Fibro Patients

  • It is possible to use this device to measure sensitivity to certain foods if following an elimination diet. Recording HRV after consumption may indicate the body’s response to that food.
  • Monitor adrenal function throughout the day. If taking an adrenal support supplement or prescription, use HRV measurements to determine effectiveness over time. 

FibroMapp (iOS and Android) $2.99

FibroMapp is the first app designed for ME/CFS and Fibro patients by fibromyalgia patients. It is a data aggregate app that allows the patient to collect various biometric and symptom information. Easily keep track of medications/supplements, sleep quality, fatigue levels, pain levels, etc. all in one place.

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Complete a daily assessment of your pain location and severity. Also keep track of daily symptoms including GI symptoms, brain fog, skin symptoms, etc. Keep a daily journal of your thoughts, symptoms, or your current treatment protocol.

Use for ME/CFS & Fibro Patients

  • This app allows easy export of your personal data as a .pdf file which can be shared with your clinician or insurer.
  • All of your data is conveniently in one place.
  • Easy to keep track of your supplement/prescription regimen

Do you have a favorite app to keep track of or improve your symptoms? Let us know in the comments.